How The Union publisher’s board seats are a conflict of interest when it comes to news gathering— just the latest example

The Grass Valley Downtown Association’s Executive Director Diane Raymond — quoted on the front-page of The Union newspaper on Friday, no less — has resigned from the organization this week, I heard through the grapevine. (BTW, thanks Diane for what you did for the group in a short period of time).

But here’s what gets me: Jim Hemig, The Union publisher, sits on the GVDA board. Yet the newspaper has not reported this.

I’m sure Jim learned about this before Sierra Foothills Report. So why isn’t The Union reporting it in “who, what, when, where, why” fashion?

My argument all along is that it is a conflict of interest for The Union’s publisher to sit on so many nonprofit boards in our community when the newspaper is supposed to be objectively covering community news, as I’ve written before. He’s wearing too many hats in an act of self-interest but doing the community a great disservice as a journalist.

Jim also sits on the board of the Greater Grass Valley Chamber of Commerce (and imagine this, the Chamber named The Union the “business of the year,” even though the newspaper outsourced its printing to Sacramento and laid off local workers). Really?

Jim also is a member of the marketing committee of the Nevada County Economic Resource Council, and he is a board member of the Sierra Memorial Hospital Foundation.

All told, The Union needs to do a much better job of disclosing its potential “conflicts of interest.” And the organizations that decide to bring them onboard as directors need to think of the unintended consequences — that is, how it can be perceived as a “good old boys network.”

Otherwise we are perceived as another “podunk community,” not a trailblazing one.

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for years, was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News, and was Editor of The Union, a 145-year-old newspaper in Grass Valley. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing and trout fishing.

5 thoughts on “How The Union publisher’s board seats are a conflict of interest when it comes to news gathering— just the latest example”

  1. This article has generated some “likes” on Facebook too, from the likes of:
    Audrey Ohlson Smith
    Lani Lott
    Bert Wheeler

  2. Here’s another response: Daniel Guerrero — I am so sorry to hear ( what I knew it was going to happen sooner or later) that she has resigned. I warned her …

  3. kar·ma
    (in Hinduism and Buddhism) the sum of a person’s actions in this and previous states of existence, viewed as deciding their fate in future existences.
    destiny or fate, following as effect from cause.

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